Old Pennies: What Are They Worth?

A lot of people are leaving comments wanting to know what their old pennies are worth.

It’s exciting to find an old wheatie Lincoln cent in circulation. And it’s getting slightly harder to find a penny dated from the 1960s or 1970s these days.

But how much are old pennies really worth?


Let’s look at some of the dates that our readers are commonly asking about…


Old Penny Values

If you find a penny in circulation, it will have wear.

Therefore, it really cannot be in mint condition (also known to coin collectors as uncirculated).

Here are some old penny values:

  • 1943 steel penny (this one often looks silver or white): 20-50 cents if well worn.
  • 1934-1958 no mintmark, D, or S copper wheat penny: 5-10 cents if well worn.
  • 1959 no mintmark or D Lincoln Memorial penny: 1 cent (face value) if worn.
  • 1960-1974 no mintmark, D, or S Lincoln Memorial penny: 1 cent if worn.
  • 1974-1981 no mintmark or D Lincoln Memorial penny: 1 cent if worn.
  • 1982 both heavier weight copper or lighter weight zinc core pennies: 1 cent if worn.
  • 1983-to-date no mintmark or D penny: 1 cent if worn.


Doubled Die Old Pennies


While penny values vary widely if they are worn, if you do find any of these old pennies, take them to your local coin dealer to get a value estimate.

  • 1955 Doubled-die obverse cent: worth several 100s of dollars even if very well worn. The 1955 doubled-die can be easily detected thanks to extreme doubling of the date on the heads side of the coin. By the way, the obverse is the front of the coin, and the reverse is the back, or tails side
  • 1972 Doubled-die obverse: look for signs of doubled images on the obverse
  • 1983 Doubled-die reverse: there will be doubling seen in the lettering on the reverse
  • 1984 Doubled ear: very hard to detect because of the design, but look for indications that Lincoln’s ear is doubled
  • 1995 Doubled-die obverse
  • 1999 Wide AM: look for extra space between the A and M in America. For comparison, look at other Lincoln cents made since 1994.


What Determines A Penny’s Value?


As you see, unless you were lucky enough to find one of the very scarce doubled-die pennies in your pocket change, your Lincoln Memorial pennies are worth only face value right now if worn.

Even many wheat pennies are worth just a marginal premium over face value if worn.

In general, pennies struck before 1934 are scarcer than those minted since 1934. This is primarily due to generally lower production numbers during those earlier years.

Also, many of those early Lincoln pennies saw heavy use in circulation and were not taken care of very well. So, many of the remaining early Lincoln cents are highly worn, corroded, cleaned, bent, or in other ways, damaged.


Old Pennies Are Fun To Collect

Just because worn Lincoln Memorial pennies and some of the later wheat pennies aren’t worth much doesn’t mean they cannot be fun to collect!

Many people find it enjoyable to keep their coins in coin folders (inexpensive coin albums that you can buy at many large bookstores). It’s exciting to fill up all the holes in the folder with coins found in everyday pocket change.

If you are looking for a really good, basic book about coins, be sure to purchase the latest edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins, by R.S. Yeoman and Kenneth Bressett.


More About Old Pennies

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of both the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, food, and living green.

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